CBRE’s digital strategy aims to ease return-to-office challenges

The commercial real estate firm sits at the nexus of the global return-to-the-office movement. Here’s how CBRE’s tech chief is leveraging tech to ease the transition for clients and employees.

CBRE’s digital strategy aims to ease return-to-office challenges

The COVID-19 outbreak has cast doubt on corporate requirements for real estate, with McKinsey and other consultants speculating that building space needs would shrink as much as 30% worldwide. Yet commercial office space will continue to be critical, even with corporate workers increasingly favoring a hybrid of office and remote work.

So says Sandeep Davé, chief digital and technology officer of CBRE, which, as a global leader in commercial development, property leasing, and other real estate endeavors, manages nearly $115 billion in assets. While the frequency with which employees come to the office may decrease for some companies, building space remains a key requirement for allowing employees to meet and collaborate, Davé tells But with the pandemic still ongoing — even as more citizens become inoculated to COVID-19 — safety remains a concern to address before employees return to the office.

And employees are returning to corporate offices, albeit spending some portion of their workweeks working from home offices. Sixty-seven percent of more than 10,000 workers CBRE surveyed in August 2020 said they expected to enjoy a hybrid work arrangement, with 28% expecting to work permanently from home and only 6% expecting to work in the office full time when the pandemic subsides. A separate poll of 77 CBRE tenants conducted in September 2020 revealed that 73% anticipate accommodating balanced work styles. “The boundaries that we’ve had for work and life have been blurred,” Davé says.

The office re-entry movement

To that end, Davé’s tech team has upgraded the company’s office experience software to accommodate re-entry into facilities. CBRE’s mobile app, called Host, now enables companies to incorporate customizable content, including information about the coronavirus from CDC, as well as corporate events, announcements, and other pertinent details.

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